CEE News Release

CEE Graduate Justin Ocel Receives 2010 Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture

September 20, 2010

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)’s Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) Steel Bridge Justin Ocel, Ph.D., P.E. (center) is the recipient of the 2010 Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture. Dr. Ocel accepts congratulations from Alex Wilson, Manager of Customer Technical Service for ArcelorMittal USA and Chairman of AISI’s Steel Market Development Institute Steel Bridge Task Force (left); and Ed Wasserman, Director of Structures for the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Chairman of the AASHTO-T14 Committee (right). Photo credit: Steel Market Development Institute  Task Force and the AASHTO (American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials) Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design have named Justin Ocel, Ph.D., P.E., as the 2010 recipient of the Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture. Dr. Ocel earned an MSCE in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech and his BS and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota.

The Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture program was instituted in 2005 in memory of Robert J. Dexter, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, who was an internationally recognized expert on steel fracture and fatigue problems. It provides an opportunity for an individual early in his/her career in structural engineering to present a lecture on his/her steel bridge activities to the SMDI Steel Bridge Task Force and to participate in its semiannual three-day meeting. The Steel Bridge Task Force is comprised of the United States’ leading steel bridge experts.

Dr. Ocel currently works as a research structural engineer for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), managing the R&D program for High-Performance Steel (HPS). He also serves as the principal investigator on the NCHRP (National Cooperative Highway Research Program) Project 12-84, Guidelines for the Load and Resistance Factor Design and Rating of Riveted, Bolted and Welded Gusset-Plate Connections for Steel Bridges.

Dr. Ocel’s presentation, delivered to the SMDI Steel Bridge Task Force on August 12 in Washington DC, was entitled “Fatigue Analysis of a Ship-Loading Structure.” The presentation outlined a case study that determined the remaining fatigue life of a complex moveable structure used to load coal into cargo ships.

During his doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Ocel worked for Robert Dexter, developing a fatigue retrofit manual for FHWA and conducting fatigue resistance testing of traffic signal details for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. After his doctoral work and prior to his employment with the FHWA, Dr. Ocel was a contract employee at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center Structures Laboratory.

“Justin Ocel’s previous work with Robert Dexter makes him an excellent candidate for this year’s Memorial Lecture,” Alex Wilson, chairman of the Steel Bridge Task Force and manager, customer technical service at ArcelorMittal USA, said. “Robert Dexter was well known for his work on practical solutions to complicated steel bridge design problems. Justin has already been a significant contributor to the research and design of steel fatigue and failure analysis, and we look forward to his future contributions as a member of the Steel Bridge Task Force.”

 “The Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture program continues to leverage viable long-term solutions to steel bridge design,” Robert J. Wills, P.E., vice president of construction market development for AISI’s Steel Market Development Institute, said. “The young bridge design talent that is recognized through this program provides a fresh perspective that is vital to driving research and design practices within the industry.”

Honorees of the Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture are selected on an annual basis and chosen based on recommendations from the members of the Steel Bridge Task Force. The award was not presented in 2008. Previous recipients include:

  • Emmett A. Sumner III, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil engineering and technical director of the Constructed Facilities Laboratory at North Carolina State University in Raleigh (2009),
  • Jennifer Righman McConnell, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware (2007),
  • Reagan Herman, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental  Engineering at the University of Houston (2006), and
  • Robert J. Connor, assistant professor of civil engineering at Purdue University (2005).

The Steel Bridge Task Force was formed more than 40 years ago to coordinate research that establishes safe, cost-effective steel bridges and to implement these developments into steel bridge design codes, specifically the AASHTO design codes. Alex Wilson chairs the task force, whose membership comprises steel producers, steel fabricators, the AASHTO Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design, university faculty, consultants and representatives from the Federal Highway Administration and the National Steel Bridge Alliance.

The work of the Steel Bridge Task Force is conducted under the Construction Market Council of AISI’s Steel Market Development Institute. The SMDI oversees the industry’s investment in advancing the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice.

AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice.  AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology.  AISI is comprised of 23 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 138 associate and affiliate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry.  AISI's member companies represent approximately 75 percent of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.  For additional information about AISI and the Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture, visit AISI’s website at www.steel.org.